Getting Involved in Your ASD Child’s Life
When seeking ways to help support your family, one action parents take is participating in Applied Behavioural Analysis (ABA) and Intensive Behavioural Intervention (IBI).
ABA is the evidence-based practice of analyzing behaviour and using positive reinforcement to help increase positive behaviours and decrease negative ones. So let's say a child is called to dinner but nothing happens. The behaviour witnessed is non-responsiveness, while the desired response is one of coming to the table. To get the desired response, positive reinforcement is used every time the child comes to the table when called. This reinforcement is different for each child and should be adapted to their individual interests. Some children respond to compliments, while others respond well to a toy. Over time, the child will adjust and start using the desired response when called to the table.
IBI is derived from ABA and is aimed to address the needs of younger children. The outcome is to help boost social interaction, communication and adaptive skills. This program is more intensive than ABA and leads to improved function in children. It follows similar principles as ABA but uses positive reinforcement more frequently.
These two treatments are a great first step in getting involved in your child’s life. They help build the foundation for better behaviours and have shown to produce many benefits not only for the child but for the family unit too. In the child with ASD, the program has helped improve communication skills, social skills, and better play behaviours in the group and individual settings. The addition of in-home therapy also brings benefits to the parents. Parents get additional support and learn new techniques to help manage behaviour. It can also free up some time for the parents and aid in building their support network. Relationships between siblings can also improve as the child with ASD learns to play with their sibling.
Additional step parents can take is by engaging in self-care. Self-care is the act of engaging in activities that enhance physical, emotional and mental health. It isn’t all about going to the spa or getting a massage, but rather doing small things on a daily basis that bring joy. This can be something as simple as getting 7 - 8 hours of sleep, relaxing with a cup of tea or disengaging from social media (do not disturb mode is a great thing). We cannot pour from an empty cup; it is vital that while being a caregiver, we also take time to recharge and care for ourselves.
Most importantly, remember to have fun! Get to know the interests of your family members and plan activities around them. Have an Art Day, or a picnic in the backyard/balcony, or just take a walk in nature. It is important to have planned spontaneity and find joy in the little things.
ABA vs. IBI: What is the difference? (2016, April 08). Retrieved December 07, 2020, from https://childrensupportsolutions.com/aba-vs-ibi-what-is-the-difference/
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Grindle, C. F., Kovshoff, H., Hastings, R. P., & Remington, B. (2009). Parents’ Experiences of Home-Based Applied Behavior Analysis Programs for Young Children with Autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 39, 42-56. doi:10.1007/s10803-008-0597-z
Intensive Behavioral Intervention IBI. (2020, November 24). Retrieved December 07, 2020, from https://behavioraldimensions.com/intensive-behavioral-intervention-ibi/
Michael, R. (2018, July 08). What Self-Care Is - and What It Isn't. Retrieved December 07, 2020, from https://psychcentral.com/blog/what-self-care-is-and-what-it-isnt-2/
Solish, A., Perry, A., & Shine, R. (2015). The Parent Involvement Questionnaire: Measuring Parents’ Involvement in Behavioural Intervention for their Children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. Journal on Developmental Disabilities, 21(1), 34-44. Retrieved December 7, 2020, from https://oadd.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/41020_JoDD_21-1_v9f_34-44_Solish_et_al.pdf
What do we mean by self-care? (2019, May 15). Retrieved December 07, 2020, from https://www.who.int/reproductivehealth/self-care-interventions/definitions/en/